KingdomPerspective June 3, 2007
As I write this, by special dispensation, on Wednesday morning, the papers are loaded with images from the presidential inauguration of 2007. Words and phrases like historic, epochal, jinx-breaking, successful, peaceful are being liberally used to describe the hand-over ceremony. The first ever civilian-to-civilian transition has therefore been concluded. Chief Olusegun Matthew Obasanjo is back in Ota savouring his first few days out of power while Alhaji Umar (or is he Umaru) Yar?Adua tries to get used to, what to him must be, the mind boggling opulence of Aso Villa, his new abode as President, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Of course the newspapers also have managed to give some space to the mass action kicked off in some parts of Nigeria yesterday by a body known as Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO). Some say it was aborted; others say it was a qualified success, but virtually all reported arrests here and there. No matter what anyone might think, however, the fact that the protest found space at all the morning after inauguration goes to confirm something we had said on this page before: our nation is currently at her most deeply divided, since the civil war! That ordinarily should give all of us cause to worry. But I know that most of us are not, for various reasons.
Many of us are past caring about what happens to this nation as long as we can somehow manage to fend for ourselves and our immediate families. It has become, for this group of people: “everyone for himself, God for us all and the devil can catch the hindmost.” Those of this frame of mind hold nothing sacrosanct, but their well-being. They are like the man who sees no evil, speaks no evil and as often as practicable avoids doing evil.
There is a second group of Nigerians, a wily, devil-may-care bunch that does not recognize any form of evil. For them the default setting of this nation is the way things are. For them it is a case of, the way we were is the way we are and the way we?ll always be. For this Machiavellian group, the ends would always justify the means. If the goal is wealth, members of this group will sell anything including their grandmother to get it. If the goal is power, they?ll do anything, kill, maim, and destroy to acquire it.
We also have a wonderful group of people who are neither here nor there. As the cliché goes, they run with the hare and hunt with the hound. These are the ones who speak from both sides of the mouth, if you pardon another cliché. You might say this is the h-group where “h” reads hypocrite. They speak with the audience in mind or at best manage to say the right things but do the opposite.
Mercifully there is yet another group. Members of this group are responsible for bringing on the scene the “G factor” that ex-President Obasanjo (ex already?) is reputed to sometimes talk about among his associates. “G”, in case you are wondering stands for God, the Almighty, the all-knowing, all-powerful ever-present creator of the heavens and the earth. Members of this group are not necessarily in the clergy; they are not necessarily among the power-dressing pentecostal pastors you see on television or the conservatively attired mild-mannered and solemn reverend gentlemen who get invited to inauguration balls. They are not necessarily those who call for prayer-for-the-nation every now and again. They are simply those who recognize evil from a distance, are ever ready to call it by its name and
refuse to fraternize with it – at whatever cost.
So why is this group not worried, you might wonder? It is because they know they are on the right side of God and therefore of history.
My dear reader where do you belong? If you belong to the last group, please read on, If not, feel free to read on all the same; at least you’ll have one or two things to sneer about.
You see, when you take a close look at the Nigerian condition brought sharply into focus by the events before, during and since the last elections, one cannot but remember one of the sayings of the Lord Jesus himself in the book of Matthew. He said: “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe (Noah) entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away” (Matthew 24:38-39).
Of course every one who has some acquaintance with the bible knows that the Lord was referring to the pre-flood days recorded in Genesis chapter 6. For ease of reference however, let?s recall the story. Evil was bestriding the world, as I enjoy putting it, colossus-style. So bad was the situation that God was broken-hearted. The bible says: ?And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart (Genesis 6:5-6).
Many of course were either oblivious of the situation; or too were too wrapped up in their desires or enjoying the fruits of their perfidy so much that nothing else mattered. They were having fun, holding banquets to celebrate ill-gotten wealth or fraudulently acquired power to notice that the drama was approaching a not-so-pleasant denouement. To borrow the contemporary word-paint of my dear pastor who inspired this piece, they were enjoying having their pictures, those of their many women and their palatial mansions on the pages of the magazines. They were the celebrities; the rave of the moment. They could afford to laugh those who do not belong to scorn; call them names; even make them feel foolish, stupid etc. Noah was therefore a fool, or worse; he needed a shrink.
The flood of evil was on, threatening to cover every inch of space and drown both the willing and the unwary. But God is never helpless. He would not let evil ride roughshod on his earth forever. So he decided to do something about it. He identified his uncontaminated remnant; the uncorrupted seed from which a new plantation can be cultivated. He found Noah. He decided to preserve him and wipe out the rest. The bible account in Genesis 6:7-8 states it like this: “And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”
Please let’s note the last part of verse 8 above. It says Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. I particularly love the Message Bible translation of this verse: “But Noah was different. GOD liked what he saw in Noah.” Are
you different? Is God likely to like what he’s seeing in you? The Life
Application Bible renders that same verse this way: “Noah was a pleasure to the Lord.” Are you a pleasure to the Lord? Or are you simply being a pleasure to that strange trinity that many currently worship – me, myself and I?
This question is important because, every flood of evil is unfailingly followed by the cleansing flood of God. The current flood of evil in our nation manifesting in the unabashed celebration of fraud, illegality, abuse of power and sundry vulgarities will inexorably be followed by the flood of God. And our nation will be the better for it.
We saw that in the experience of Noah’s time. The flood of God came; the tide turned. Noah and his family, who most certainly were the butt of many cruel jokes; who were fit only for the oddities page and never for the celebrity pages of newspapers, became God’s celebrities; they became God’s partner in the onerous task of rebuilding the world. So, of course, will it be for the minority presently tediously swimming against the powerful current of evil in the land. They would be God?s partners in rebuilding our land.
Everything God does follows a pattern and is according a Kingdom principle. Nigeria’s case will not be different. The evil that’s been currently touted as our culture; the perfidy that’s been projected as a foundation upon which we can move the nation forward?; the on-going attempt to employ a reasonably good builder to build on quicksand will fail.
Mercifully we are in the dispensation of grace and the Noahic covenant symbolized by the occasional occurrences of the rainbow assures that the world would never again be wiped out by floods of water. But the floods of righteousness will yet come and it will sweep away all inequities, all injustices and all violence done to the psyche of God’s people. And God help the perpetrators and beneficiaries of these things. It is then and only then that Nigeria shall take her place in the end-time plans of God. Beware the flood to come.